- Decision on borrowing $38 million for new school tables
- Brokerage commission on lease for new post office approved
- Report on county preparedness for pandemic
- Electronic Meetings allowed
All NKC Supervisors were present in person.
At 9 am on Wednesday, March 25, 2020, the NKC Board of Supervisors held their regularly scheduled work session. To facilitate transparency and citizen access, the session was live-streamed on Facebook; the stream was generated from a handheld camera from the from row of the gallery in the boardroom, giving a very realistic experience for the viewer. The feed from the ceiling-mounted cameras was posted to YouTube as a replay immediately after the adjournment of the meeting.
The two key items were the borrowing of $38 million for the new elementary school and reports on the county’s emergency response and planning for the Coronavirus pandemic.
New School Borrowing
After a long discussion, the decision on borrowing for the construction of the new school was tabled until the April 13 regular business meeting.
Among the supervisors’ comments:
Ron Stiers stated that we’re in uncharted territory, and he believes we should delay the new shcool for a year; it would not be wise to borrow $38 million at this time.
John Lockwood said he thought it would be prudent todelay the decision at least a few weeks (until the next meeting); there are many factors beyond our control or understanding in the current situation.
Thomas Evelyn allowed that there is no question we need a new school, but he thinks it would be wise to delay the decision for a few weeks.
Board chair Patricia Paige declared that we are facing an unknown future; after this there will likely be a “new normal” and we should delay the school borrowing decision.
Park Loan Refinancing Offer
Ted Cole of Davenport offered news the the bank holding the loan for the construction of Pine Fork Park has offered to refinance the loan at a lower rate; could save the county $10,000 to $11,000 per year. No action required at this time – the board will consider this at a future meeting.
COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness
Fire Chief Opett reported on the COVID-19 emergency:
When a local emergency was declared on 15 March, the county established a virtual emergency operations center. They are communicating daily with the state, regional and local authorities, including our neighboring counties to the east and west. A leadership task force is meeting daily at 3pm. There is a unified command, lead by Chief Opett and Sheriff McLaughlin. They are making long-term plans for this event as it is not clear when the end will come. They have activated emergency support functions for: Communications, Fire and EMS, Planning, Mass care, Logistics, Public health, Public safety and security, Business and infrastructure, External affairs and Donation/Volunteer management. Activities include:
– Working with school and private entities to get WiFi hot spots all around the county.
– Dispatchers are screening 911 calls with additional questions aimed at protecting personnel.
– Fire and EMS staff are prepared for the long haul; matching CDC recommendations.
– New policy to reduce personnel exposure time – field triage before deploying multiple people.
– Preparing for a surge of activity (worst case scenario); next 3 or 4 weeks could be very challenging.
– Increased decontamination procedures for personnel and equipment (incl. Ambulances).
– Screening all EMS Staff 3 times a day; making sure they are healthy.
– In the past 7 days: 44 EMS calls, six were medium- to high-risk, based on reported symptoms.
– Planning for the long haul: emergency meals, senior welfare, working with churches to check on the elderly, working on a recovery plan.
– Planning for the worst in the short-, mid- and long-term; tornado season is upon us and hurricane season is coming.
– Working with the commonwealth to plan for mass care during a surge in cases; tent hospitals, etc.
– Monitoring inventory and use rate of PPE, received shipment from national stockpile, donation from Colonial Downs.
– Purchased 1000 emergency meals.
– No cases in NKC, but keeping in touch with local health professionals daily.
– Working with EDA and Chamber of Commerce to reach out to small businesses re: SBA loans.
– Working to counter false info; guiding people to county website; help lines available; rumor control; monitoring social media.
– Volunteer and donation management; established “NKC COVID-19 HELP” – a clearinghouse for those offering or needing help: call 804-966-1853 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
County Administrator Rodney Hathaway reported that the county administration building is closed to the public, but staff are still on duty and the county is still operating; collecting online payments; drop boxes in the parking lot for permit applications, payments, etc.; still conducting building inspections, environmental inspections; most operations continuing except for face-to-face interactions. Staff instructed to stay home if experiencing any symptoms; requiring self quarantine for 14 days if exposed, if spouse exposed or if traveled out of the county.
Finally, the BoS passed an ordinance allowing them (and other county committees and commissions) to meet electronically (via GoToMeeting, WebEx, etc.), if needed.
Prepared by Charles Karow
NKC Board of Supervisors Meeting Agenda: (http://va-newkentcounty.civicplus.com/625/NovusAgenda).
Meeting Schedule: The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Board of Supervisors will be held at 6:00 p.m. on Monday, April 13, 2020 and the next work session at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, April 29, 2020, both in the Boardroom of the County Administration Building.